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rec.models.rockets FAQ Part 00 - Introduction and TOC

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Archive-name: model-rockets/intro
Rec-models-rockets-archive-name: rockets-faq/part00-intro
Posting-Frequency: weekly
Last-modified: 2002 May 29

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge

   Rec.models.rockets (r.m.r) is a Usenet newsgroup created for discussions 
and topics
   related to model and high-power rocketry.  The purpose of this newsgroup 
is for the
   exchange of information between anyone wanting to build, fly, or use 
model rockets or
   high power rockets. These are viable alternatives to amateur 
rocketry.  The term "model
   rocket" is defined based on non-metalic structural components, weight, 
propellant and
   total impulse restrictions, electrical ignition, recovery devices, and 
factory-made, solid
   propellant engines. The term "High power rocket" refers to any rocket 
using model rocket
   technology (as described above) except without the weight, propellant, 
and total impulse
   restrictions of model rocketry.  Amateur rocketry, pyrotechnics, rocket 
motor-making, and
   "EX" rocketry are related topics that fall outside of the scope of this 

   This FAQ (list of Frequently Asked Questions) is an attempt to compile a 
number of questions
   and suggestions that have been repeatedly posted to r.m.r into a single, 
quickly readable document.
   This document was NOT meant to be a 'how to' on any form of 
non-professional rocketry  It's hoped
   that it might be of use in answering some of the more commonly asked 
questions, summarizing some
   good tips and suggestions, and directing the reader to other documents, 
books, sources, etc., where
   more information may be found.  The FAQ has evolved into something 
monstrous (and very informative).
   For this reason, only this introduction and the first three sections of 
the FAQ will be posted biweekly.
   The entire FAQ will make its appearance on r.m.r. monthly.

   This FAQ is organized as a list of primary topics (see the Table of 
Contents below) with a number of
   questions and answers under each.  The majority of this document deals 
with, but is not limited to,
   consumer rocketry in the United States and Canada.

     This entire FAQ is available on the web.

         HTML version of the entire FAQ:

        Most recently posted version of the FAQ:


   This entire 14 part FAQ is copyright (c) 1996 - 2002 Wolfram von 
Kiparski, editor.
   Portions of this FAQ may also have additional copyrights.  Everyone is 
   to copy and distribute verbatim copies of this FAQ, provided that you 
   and appropriately include on each copy an appropriate copyright notice, 
including those
   portions of the FAQ that have additional copyright notices.  Changing, 
editing, or otherwise
   modifying this FAQ by any means, manual or mechanical, for 
redistribution is not allowed
   without written permission from the editor of this FAQ.  Distribution of 
this FAQ for profit,
   promotional, inclusion as "content" on an ecommerce website, or other 
commercial use is not
   allowed without written permission from the editor of this FAQ.

   The entire FAQ is posted to rec.models.rockets every month.  A shorter 
version comprised of
   this Introduction and Sections #1, #2, and #3 are posted every two weeks 
or so.


   This document was originally compiled (with help from many others) by 
Buzz McDermott
   and Jack Hagerty.  This document is now maintained and edited by Wolfram 
v.Kiparski with help
   from others.  This FAQ would not be possible without the constant flow 
of tips, suggestions,
   and sound advice from the readership of rec.models.rockets. Comments, 
corrections and suggestions
   for additions are welcomed and encouraged.
   Please send your suggestions to:

       Wolfram v.Kiparski

   or send them to the editor of the portion of the FAQ for which you have 
a comment. The FAQ editors are:

   Part 01:    Wolfram v.Kiparski  (
   Part 02:    Wolfram v.Kiparski
   Part 03:    Wolfram v.Kiparski
   Part 04:    Wolfram v.Kiparski
   Part 05:    Wolfram v.Kiparski
   Part 06:    Wolfram v.Kiparski
   Part 07:    Wolfram v.Kiparski
   Part 08:    Bob Kaplow          (
   Part 09:    Andy Eng            (
   Part 10:    Wolfram v.Kiparski
   Part 11:    Wolfram v.Kiparski
   Part 12:    Wolfram v.Kiparski
   Part 13:      Canada:         editor needed
                    Australia:         editor needed
                 United Kingdom: Darren J Longhorn (
                 New Zealand:    editor needed
                    Germany:        Oliver Missbach (
                    Italy:          Luca Benassi
   Part 14:    Wolfram von Kiparski


   Many of the tips and suggestions included in this FAQ include references to
   particular companies and/or products.  Opinions expressed are those of the
   submitters.  Several submitters have asked that readers do not request
   the company names and addresses from them.  PLEASE refer to Part 2 of the
   FAQ or a recent issue of one of the rocketry magazines.  Check this FAQ 



1.1  What, exactly, is a 'model rocket' versus a 'high power' rocket?  Where do
      liquid fueled and homemade rocket motors fit in?  What about amateur 
1.2  NFPA, FAA, DOT, ... Who are all these organizations and how do they
         affect the rocketry hobby?
1.3  What is the current legal status of model and high power rocketry in 
the U.S.?
1.4  I would like to get into Large Model Rockets. What are my options?
          Who has NAR certified E, F and G motors today?
1.5  Is the proper term rocket 'engine' or rocket 'motor'?
1.6  What do the letters and numbers on a model rocket motor mean?
1.7  What is a CATO?  Is it CATO pronounced KAY-TO or CAT-O?
1.8  When a consumer rocket motor fails (i.e., CATOs) does it explode or
1.9  Why don't I just make my own model rocket motors?  Shouldn't I be able
         to custom-make better, more powerful motors at a cheaper price?


2.1  National rocketry organizations
2.2  Rocketry manufacturers and suppliers
      2.2.1  Model and High Power Rocket Manufacturers
      2.2.2  Electronics/Recovery Systems/Other Rocketry Components and 
      2.2.3  Miscellaneous suppliers of raw materials, supplies, and equipment
      2.2.4  Mail Order Vendors
      2.2.5  Sources for Out-of-Production Model Rocket Kits
      2.2.6  Books/Videos/Computer Software/Technical References
      2.2.7  International (outside U.S.A.) rocketry sources
2.3  Rocketry books
2.4  Rocketry magazines


3.1   How do I get to the r.m.r archive site?
3.2   What is available from the r.m.r archive?
3.3   How do I upload files to the r.m.r. archive?
3.4   I have read-only access to r.m.r.  Is there any way I can still post
         articles to the newsgroup?
3.5   What are some neat rocketry web pages to check out?


4.1   What the heck is a BAR, 'Born Again Rocketeer'?
4.2   I have been out of model rockets for many (i.e. <nn>+) years now.
       What been happening in the hobby over the past couple of decades?
       What's new? What's gone?
          4.2.1    Who's Left, Who's Not & Who's New
          4.2.2   Changes in Motor Technology
          4.2.3   Competition
          4.2.4   High Power Rocketry
          4.2.5   Electronics Advancements
          4.2.6   Regulations, Regulations, Regulations
4.3   Are my old rocket kits worth anything today?
4.4   Where can I find plans of old kits?


5.1    Can I legally fly model rockets in my state?  What are the restrictions?
5.2    When do I need to notify the FAA before flying a large model rocket?
5.3    I have a son/daughter that is (less than 9) years old.  Is this too
        young for model rocketry?  If not, are there any tips for helping to
         keep their interest in the hobby?
5.4    Is there any way I can buy model rocket kits, parts and engines at less
         than full retail?
5.5    I've had a large number of motors CATO recently.  The engines are only
         about 2 years old.  I've had them stored in my 
5.6    Is it safe to use my old rocket engines from <nn> years ago?
5.7    What's a good way to find other rocket enthusiasts in my area?  How can
        I found out about local rocket clubs?
5.8    Are the Aerotech composite motors the same size as Estes/MRC/Quest
5.9    Can I use Aerotech or other composite motors in my Estes rockets?
5.10    Will my Estes launch system work with Aerotech composite motors?
5.11   Can I use Aerotech composite motors as boosters in my multi-stage
5.12   How can I tell the age of my Estes motors?
5.13   Are reloadable model rocket motors shippable the same as disposable
         model rocket motors?
5.14   My flying field is so small I keep losing my rockets.  What can I do?
5.15   Are Jetex engines still available?  Where can I get them?
5.16   BT-20, BT-50, BT-55.  What the heck do the numbers mean on Estes body
        tubes?  Is their any special meaning in these numbers?
5.17   I've seen mention of all kinds of rocket motor types and sizes.  Could
        you give a brief history and summary of the main marketing names for
        model rocket motors?
5.18   Why don't I just make my own model rocket motors?  Shouldn't I be able
        to custom-make better, more powerful motors at a cheaper price?


6.1    Cutting, Sealing, Attaching Fins
6.2    Body Tubes (Cutting, Joining, Filling)
6.3    I'm fed up with tangled plastic parachutes with broken shroud lines. How
          can I improve on the standard chutes, or make my own?
6.4    Alternatives to Recovery Wadding
6.5    Are there any good tips when making my own nose cones?
6.6    Getting Paint to Stick to LOC and Aerotech Nose Cones
6.7    Is it possible to get a high gloss, durable finish on a model rocket?
6.8    Are there any good paints for silver details on scale models?
6.9    How can I prevent a rocket painted white from yellowing?
6.10   Which is better, white or yellow glue? Epoxy? Cyano?
6.11   Improving on the Estes Shock Cord Mount
6.12   I've built several BT-80 based models. How can I strengthen future
         models to take larger motors, such as Aerotech 24mm or 29mm reloads?
6.13   How can I prevent balsa fins from breaking off on landing (especially
         for models with swept fins)?
6.14   I just lost my favorite rocket and the kit is discontinued.  How can I
          make another one just like it?
6.15  How can I reduce damage to the booster stage of two stage models caused
       by the engine exhaust of the second stage?
6.16  Is there a way to increase the stability of nearly finless models?
6.17  How can I build a rocket with less wind resistance?


7.1   I would like to make a scale model of the <??> rocket. Where do I
       start looking for technical data, dimensions, flight substantiation 
data, etc.?
7.2   What are some specific sources for general scale data?
7.3   I've never built any scale models. Are there any recommended kits for
          first timers?
7.4   What other scale/sport scale kits are available? I'd like to build
          another kit or two before tackling a scratch scale project.
7.5   O.K., I've done all my research, collected all the data I can.
          I've even built a couple of scale kits a a warm up. Now I'm ready
          to build a model I can be proud of. How do I...?
7.6   What tools do I need?
7.7   Where can I get more information on modeling techniques?
7.8   Got any tips for generating scale plans from original dimensions?


8.1 R/C Rocket Gliders
     8.1.1  Have there been any construction reviews of R/C rocket gliders?
     8.1.2  I'm building the 'XXX' R/C Rocket Glider and it uses foam core 
            Are there any  things I should know about working with foam?
     8.1.3  Any tips for sheeting the wings on my Aerotech Phoenix?
     8.1.4  How about help with my Estes Astroblaster wings?
     8.1.5  How do you repair damaged foam wings?
     8.1.6  Some more uses of foam in rocketry...
     8.1.7  I need to cut the piano wire control rods.  Bolt cutters don't work
            well, as the metal is too hard.  Any ideas?
8.2 Free Flight Boost and Rocket Gliders
     8.2.1  What is the difference between a Boost/Glider and a Rocket/Glider?
     8.2.2  What are some types of gliders?
     8.2.3  What are all these funny names I see referenced?
     8.2.4  I'm just starting. What kits or plans are available?
     8.2.5  Why do most gliders have the rudder under the fuselage?
     8.2.6  These things are very different from what I've built before.
            Are there any tips for building them?
     8.2.7  Should I paint my glider?
     8.2.8  Can I convert a hand launched glider (HLG) to rocket power? How do I attach a pop pod to a glider?
     8.2.9  I'd like to design my own glider. How do I know if it will work?
            How do I compute the CP for a glider?
     8.2.10 What motor should I use to fly my glider?
     8.2.11 This thing looks weird sitting on the pad.
            How do I launch a glider?
     8.2.12 My glider looped and crashed into the ground. What is wrong?
     8.2.13 My glider shredded. What is wrong?
     8.2.14 The pod stuck on my boost/glider and the thing crashed. What is 
     8.2.15 My glider glides like the space shuttle (or worse). What is wrong?
     8.2.16 My glider never came down and flew away. What is wrong?
     8.2.17 Glossary: (with thanks to
     8.2.18 References: (kits, books, publications, catalogs)


9.0   Introduction
9.1   Are there any manufacturers making kits specifically designed for 
9.2   What are the major categories of competition model rocketry?
9.3   What are some good events to try when first getting into 
competition?  Any
       'sage' advice?
9.4     Specifics
9.4.a.   Getting Jump Started
9.4.b.   What is a 'piston' launcher? Does it really help?
9.4.c    Wire Loops
9.4.d    Pop Lugs - A CMR pop lug described
9.4.e    Flying Naked
9.4.f    Regarding Streamers
9.4.f.1   Streamers Part 1
9.4.f.2   Streamers Part 2
9.4.f.3   Streamers Part 3
9.4.f.4   Streamers Part 4
9.4.g    Super Roc Duration
9.4.h    Flex Wings
9.4.i.1  Tracking Powder Part 1
9.4.i.2  Tracking Powder Part 2 (How to Pack It)
9.4.j    Packing Large Chutes
9.4.k    Tandems
9.4.l    Helicopter design
9.4.m    Optimal Thrust
9.5    Aside from hanging around 'old timers', how can I learn more about 
        strategies and techniques without re-inventing the wheel many times 
9.6    Tripoli Altitude Records
9.7    NAR Competition Records
9.8    Some Unofficial High Power Altitude Attempts
9.9    Biggest Non-metallic Rocket Flights
9.10   Other Non-professional Flights of Note
9.11   Some other highest verified altitudes
9.12   The Best of the BMWQF
9.13   Do's and Don'ts


10.1   I'm a successful model rocketeer.  What do I need to get into HPR?
10.2   What are the major differences between model and high power rockets,
            besides size and engines?  Are they built differently?
10.3   How do I get high power certified?
10.4   What is a 'reloadable' motor.  Are they worth the price?  Are they 
10.5   What are these different 'types' of composite motors I hear about (White
            Lightning, Black Jack, Smokey Sam, etc.)?
10.6   What's an FAA waiver? Which rocket flights require one?
        This section includes the relevant parts of FAR 101.
10.7   OK. I want to fly some high power rockets. How do I get an FAA waiver?
10.8   Is high power rocketry legal in every state, if the proper forms are
10.9   Where do I find out the proper way to use HPR rockets and motors?  I'm
            familiar with the NAR Model Rocketry Sporting Code.  Is there 
an HPR
10.10  What are some good kits to build when first getting into high power
            rocketry (assuming I have all of the basic model rocketry skills)?
10.11  When is a Federal Low Explosives Permit required?
10.12  How do I get an LEUP? Are there any requirements?
10.13  How is thermalite affected by the ATF regulatory enforcement?
10.14  How can I get the Orange Book (explaining the ATF explosive laws
             and regulations) and the proper LEUP forms?
10.15  Just what is a 'hybrid' rocket motor? Who makes them?


11.1   Do you have any tips for cutting and sealing fins used on HPR rockets?
11.2   How do you keep in a high power motor in its mount, but still allow
        for the numerous lengths in which HPR motors are sold?
11.3   Custom Decals for High Power Rockets
11.4   I've had several rocket body tubes ruined by the shock cord tearing
        into the body tube at ejection and making long slits.  How can I
         prevent this?
11.5   Estes 'toilet paper' recovery wadding strikes me as a bit wrong for HPR
        rockets.  What are some alternatives?
11.6   What are the differences between the various HPR body tube materials
         used by the 'major' HPR manufacturers?
11.7   How can I strengthen my thick paper (i.e., LOC type) body tubes?
11.8   Is there any way to retrofit my existing rockets to have some type of
        positive retention system?
11.9  All these high power motors are different sizes. How do I hold
        them in? What do I use for a motor block and where should I put it?


12.1   Copperhead, squib, electric match, thermalite, flash bulb.  What are
          all these types of igniters, how much current do they require, and
          when are they used?
12.2   How do those 'Copperhead' igniters work?  They only have one wire?
12.3   I've heard that Copperhead igniters are 'unreliable' for igniting HPR
          motors. Is that true?
12.4   Do you have any specific suggestions or tips for an ignition power
         sources? Can I use my old Estes ignition system with composite models?
12.5   WARNING:  Be very careful using any ignition system with 'flashbulb' or
           electric match type igniters.
12.6   The ignition of rockets by other than electrical means is banned by both
          the NAR and Tripoli safety codes and should not be used.
12.7   What is thermalite fuse and how is it involved in igniting rocket 
12.8   How do you ignite second stage composite motors?  Can I use a black
         powder booster for the first stage to ignite the second (as I do
         with multi-state A-D rockets)?
12.9   What is 'flash in the pan' ignition and for what is it useful in 
12.10  I would like to perfect a method for reliable ignition of clustered 
         stage rockets. Any suggestions or tips?
12.11  How do I cluster rocket motors?  When igniting a cluster of rocket
         motors, should the igniters be wired in parallel or in series? Why?
12.12  I am new to rocketry.  I was wondering whether anyone has tried
         using waterproof wicks instead of igniters to ignite a rocket engine.
12.13  The alligator clips on my launch system have worn out. What should I
         use to replace them?
12.14  Other Ignition Tips:


13.1     Rocketry in Australia
13.1.1     What rules apply to model rocketry in Australia?
13.1.2     What are good sources of model rocketry kits/wg's/parts, etc.?
13.1.3     Are there any regular rocket contests, launches, clubs, etc.?
13.1.4     Info on amateur groups/activities (such as AusRoc) in the

13.2     Rocketry in Canada
13.2.1     Are there any national organizations to which I can join in Canada?
              What services do they offer?
13.2.2     What kinds of rockets (model and/or high power) are legal to fly in
13.2.3     Are there any High Power launches at all in Canada?
13.2.4     What kinds of rocket motors are available for purchase in Canada?
13.2.5     Are there any Canadian mail order houses where I can purchase model
               rocket kits, motors and supplies?

13.3     Rocketry in the United Kingdom
13.3.1     Is model rocketry legal in the UK?
13.3.2     What size model rockets can be flown?
13.3.3     What model rockets are available?
13.3.4     What types of engines are available?
13.3.5     Where can I buy model rockets?
13.3.6     Are there any events/competitions?
13.3.7     Are there any clubs?
13.3.8     What are addresses of some of the shops that carry model rocketry?
13.3.9     What are some of the rocket clubs in the U.K., and do they have any
                problems getting permission to fly their rockets?

13.4     Rocketry in South Africa

13.5     Rocketry in New Zealand

13.6     Rocketry in Germany
13.6.1     German Explosives Law
13.6.2     German Aviation Regulations
13.6.3     What Rockets and Motors can I buy and use in Germany?
13.6.4     Clustering and Staging
13.6.5     Can I make my own rocket motors?
13.6.6     Can I use rocket motors made for display fireworks?
13.6.7     Importing Rockets, Parts and Motors
13.6.8     Where can I launch my Rockets?
13.6.9     Where can I launch rockets with bigger motors?
13.6.10    What Insurance do I need?
13.6.11    Addresses of Rocketry-related Clubs


14.2  How do I make my own rocket motors?
14.3  My primary interest is in amateur rocketry.
       Where can I find information about amateur rocketry?
14.4  Amateur rocketry on the Internet
14.5  Manufacturers, suppliers, publishers, and consultants

rs, publishers, and consultants

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